Dr. Karen Leslie Hernandez
GIU Senior Faculty Member and Academic Advisor
Dr. Karen Leslie Hernandez is an educator, theologian, interfaith activist, restorative justice practitioner, and peacebuilder. Graduating from Claremont School of Theology with her Doctor of Ministry in Spiritual Renewal, Contemplative Practice, and Strategic Leadership, with a focus in Interfaith Peacebuilding and Restorative/Transformative Justice '21, Dr. Hernandez's dissertation and project focused on developing a restorative justice component to interfaith peacebuilding for United Religions Initiative - the largest grassroots interfaith peacebuilding organization in the world.
Karen also has a Master of Sacred Theology in Theology, Philosophy and Ethics with a focus in Religion and Conflict Transformation from Boston University School of Theology ‘12, as well as a Master of Theological Research in Christian-Muslim Understanding from Andover Newton Theological School ‘07. Karen did her BA at Wellesley College, one of the top Ivy League, all women's colleges in the nation, graduating with honors in her major, Peace and Justice Studies, ‘05.Dr. Hernandez's expertise concentrates in the areas of restorative/transformative justice, theological coexistence, theological responses to religious extremism, human rights in sacred texts, trauma informed responses to conflict/violence, as well as peacebuilding – locally and internationally. Her experiential educational opportunities in India and the Middle East, especially, benefit her work in this field immensely. Published, for several media outlets in the US as well as overseas, Karen brings a well-rounded perspective to multi-cultural, multi-religious collaborative peacebuilding as she works to cultivate grounded and fruitful bridge building efforts worldwide.
With extensive interfaith and multi-religious work and experience, Karen currently works as Programme Officer of Partnerships and Interreligious Education at Religions for Peace International. She also worked at United Religions Initiative for over seven years, at Habitat for Humanity - East Bay Silicon Valley for almost three years, and at St. Anthony’s in the Tenderloin, San Francisco, for two and a half years.
A proud Chicana with Indigenous Mexican roots, Karen is the only Latina interfaith practitioner working at this level of expertise in the United States. Along with her theological and peacebuilding work, Karen is also a certified domestic violence advocate and mandated reporter. She lives in California, is currently pursuing her Yoga Certification, as well as an End of Life Doula Certification, and she loves to hike, kayak, and spend time with her 33 year old daughter and her dog. Finally, Dr. Hernandez is thrilled to join the inaugural faculty of Global Interfaith University.